Autonomous vehicle wireless charging and more #sdc2022

Automated charging without human intervention is essential for the eventual implementation of shared, autonomous and low-cost electric mobility. So it was fitting that InductEV (formerly Momentum Dynamics) had exposure at the 5th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCars Summit.

In the interview above, InductEV Chief Commercial Officer Bob Kacergis compares their wireless charging solution to common consumer goods, like a toothbrush or cell phone, but delivering up to 450kW. Their solution goes beyond wireless electricity transfer, as Kacergis equates its system with an automatic toll in which recharging takes place automatically once a vehicle stops at one of its plates, authenticates and, if applicable, makes a payment.

Kacergis suggests that the benefits of this approach include:

  • There is no need to get out of the vehicle to deal with a charger.
  • It doesn’t have the reliability issues associated with mechanical parts and screens that traditional chargers have (see this Verge article for an idea of ​​the dissatisfaction with the current charging solution).
  • It is modular, allowing the loader to meet the needs of a given application.
  • The installation in the street of charging plates allows charging while driving.

Opportunity billing enabling new opportunities #

Regarding this last chip, InductEV has its first commercial success with taxi and bus systems for planned and punctual charging. Charging along a given route allows for either smaller batteries, longer range and/or all-day routes (not having to spend hours in a charging depot).

This results in improved operational efficiency. Wenatchee, the Washington transit agency, found that the costs of operating its electric fleet, combined with en-route charging, were about 51% of the cost of a diesel bus. Of course, they have the advantage of low-cost hydroelectricity from the Columbia River.

In 2019, Indianapolis’ IndyGo turned to InductEV to effectively increase bus reach along its electrified bus rapid transit line. The problem was that, especially in cold weather, BYD-provided buses consistently failed to meet their range specifications. The installation of three wireless charging stations along the route effectively extended the range of the buses without having to increase the batteries.

A more recent application that takes advantage of InductEV’s ability to authenticate and distinguish customers is the regional network run by Solana Transit Agency in Northern California. Spanning at least 40 miles and across multiple transit agencies, seven chargers will power electric buses serving both local routes and longer routes that connect the Central Valley to the Bay Area.

The future is autonomous #

Kacergis says three major bus manufacturers, BYD, Gillig and GreenPower Motor Company have the option of factory installing InductEV’s charging plates on their respective buses and electric vehicles. And as a nod to the future, Kacergis indicates that their first deployment with an autonomous vehicle dates back to 2015 with Alphabet/Google (now Waymo). The solution offered by InductEV is definitely a building block needed to turn the science fiction described in this Viodi 2014 article into commercial reality.

Author Ken Pyle, Editor

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